Chaucer Flashcards Preview

More Quals > Chaucer > Flashcards

Flashcards in Chaucer Deck (55):

What was the Hundred Years' War?

A conflict waged from 1337-1453 between England (Plantagenet) and France (Valois) over succession to the French throne.


When did Chaucer live?

b. ~1342, d. 1400


What time of year do the Canterbury Tales take place?



Knight's Tale: Who are the key figures in the Knight's Tale? What are their relationships to each other?

Theseus, Hippolyta, Emelye, Arcite, Palamon

Theseus is king of Athens; Hippolyta is his wife, formerly an Amazon (defeated by Theseus); Emelye is her sister, who both Arcite and Palamon fall in love with; Arcite and Palamon are cousins and soldiers of Creon of Thebes. When Theseus defeats Creon's army, he takes Arcite and Palamon captive.


Knight's Tale: How do Palamon and Arcite each get released from prison?

Arcite is released first; Theseus releases him on the condition that he never return to Athens. Overcome by love for Emelye, he returns to Athens in disguise. Seven years later, Palamon drugs his jailer and escapes from prison. The two run into each other in a grove, and both are in the wrong.


Knight's Tale: What is Arcite's alias when he returns to Athens?



Knight's Tale: What day of the week do Arcite and Palamon reunite in the grove? What is significant about this day?

It is Friday - Venus's day.

"For thus can whimsical Venus overcast/The spirits of her folk, just as her day/Friday is changeable, and so too are they/Seldom is Friday like the rest of the week."


Knight's Tale: How does Theseus propose to resolve the conflict between Arcite and Palamon?

He instructs each to return exactly one year from now with 100 knights. The two forces will battle and the victor will be allowed to marry Emelye.


Knight's Tale: To which deity did Palamon, Arcite, and Emelye each pray before the battle?

Palamon: Venus; Emelye: Diana; Arcite: Mars


Knight's Tale: What is the outcome of the grand battle between Arcite and Palamon?

Arcite is victorious, but dies of injuries soon afterwards. He forgives Palamon before his death. There is an extensive period of mourning for Arcite, but eventually Palamon marries Emelye.


Knight's Tale: What are the four main identifying traits of the Knight?

1.) Love of Ideals (chivalry, truth, freedom, honor, courtesy)
2.) Impressive military career (fought in Crusades etc)
3.) Meek, gentile manner
4.) His dress (coarse tunic, rust and battle-stained armor)


Miller's Tale: Who are the main figures in the Miller's Tale? What are their relationships to each other?

Carpenter (John), Alison, Nicholas, Absalon

Alison is the beautiful wife of the Carpenter; Nicholas is a young scholar from Oxford who is the lodger of the Carpenter; Alison and Nicholas want to have sex; Absalon is a clerk who also wants to sleep with Alison.


Miller's Tale: What plan do Alison and Nicholas devise so that they can sleep together?

Nicholas pretends that via his studies he has learned that a world-ending flood is imminent. The gullible Carpenter, horrified, takes Nicholas' advice to prepare tubs for each of them and hang them from the roof. Nicholas tells him to sleep in the tub so that he can cast off at a moment's notice - that way Alison and Nicholas will be free to spend the night together.


Miller's Tale: How does Absalon interrupt Alison and Nicholas' plan?

He stops by the house during the night to declare his love to Alison and ask for a kiss.


Miller's Tale: What trick does Alison play on Absalon?

When he asks for a kiss, she sticks her ass out of the window and he kisses that instead.


Miller's Tale: What happens when Nicolas tries to repeat Alison's trick?

Absalon, wise to the trick, sticks a hot iron on Nicholas' ass. His yelp awakens the Carpenter, who cuts his tub down from the ceiling. The fall causes him to faint.


Miller's Tale: What ultimately happens to the Carpenter?

Alison and Nicholas claim that he is mad, and cite his strange actions over the past few days. He becomes the town laughingstock.


Miller's Tale: Who feels particularly offended by the Miller's Tale?

The Reeve (a carpenter)


Reeve's Tale: What is the Reeve's name?



Reeve's Tale: Who are the main characters in the Reeve's Tale? What are their relationships to each other?

Symkyn the Miller, Symkyn's wife, Symkyn's Daughter, Symkyn's baby, Aleyn, John

Symkyn is the Miller in Cambridge, a notorious cheat; Aleyn and John are students of Trinity College - both are originally from the same village in the North, Strother


Reeve's Tale: What color were Symkyn and his wife renowned for wearing?



Reeve's Tale: Who is the father of Symkyn's wife?

"A celibate priest"


Reeve's Tale: What is an interesting linguistic feature of the Reeve's Tale?

The speech of Aleyn and John is one of the first uses of dialect in the English language (Northern England).


Reeve's Tale: What do Aleyn and John decide to do after Symkyn steals outrageously from the school?

They decide to watch Symkyn very carefully when he next grinds their grain to make sure there's no funny business.


Reeve's Tale: How does Symkyn get his revenge upon Aleyn and John for their watchfulness?

He unties their horse, which they then must spend all day chasing.


Reeve's Tale: How do Aleyn and John get their counter-revenge after Symkyn cheats them of their grain and releases their horse?

Since they have spent all day chasing their horse, they propose to pay to stay overnight at the Miller's. In the night, Aleyn has sex with his daughter and John with his wife. In the morning confusion, they beat the Miller and make off with a cake made out of their grain, never paying for the food and lodging the Miller provided.


Reeve's Tale: How does Symkyn's wife end up sleeping with John?

He moves the baby's cradle to the foot of his bed instead of the Miller's. When his wife gets up in the night, she comes back to the wrong bed.


Wife of Bath's Tale: What is the Wife of Bath's relationship with Scripture?

The Wife of Bath offers a re-interpretation of Scripture, arguing that it is okay to be married multiple times (like King Solomon with all his concubines) and questioning whether there is much Biblical basis for preserving virginity.

Critics disagree whether or not Chaucer means for us to understand that the Wife of Bath has misread the Bible, or if it's supposed to be a kind of proto-feminist argument.


Wife of Bath's Tale: How many husbands has the Wife of Bath had?



Wife of Bath's Tale: Which traits did her three "good" husbands share?

They were rich and old


Wife of Bath's Tale: What's one way the Wife kept control over her husbands?

By accusing them of doing wrong/having affairs and giving them good tongue-lashings that kept them in line.


Wife of Bath's Tale: What was the Wife's relationship with her fourth husband like?

She caught him cheating on her, and so she made his life miserable until he died.


Wife of Bath's Tale: When does the Wife marry her fifth husband, Jankyn? What is he like?

She marries him a month after her fourth husband's death. He is young and handsome, but abusive.


Wife of Bath's Tale: What is the knight's crime? What is his punishment?

Rape. He is allowed a year and a day to find the answer to "What is the thing that women most desire?" If he answers incorrectly, he will be killed.


Wife of Bath's Tale: What is the answer to the Queen's riddle?

That women desire sovereignty over their husbands and lovers.


Wife of Bath's Tale: What option does the old woman give to the knight after they marry? What does he choose, and what is the result?

She can either make herself young and beautiful but unfaithful, or stay old & ugly and be faithful. He decides to let her choose - she rewards him with transforming into a beautiful woman who will also be faithful.


Pardoner's Tale: What is an indulgence?

An indulgence is a written pardon for a sin that a person has repented of. These are what the Pardoner peddles (and usually pockets the money paid for them).


Pardoner's Tale: What is the theme of every sermon the Pardoner gives?

"Radix malorum est Cupiditas" (Greed is the root of all Evil)


Pardoner's Tale: Which of the three rioters sets off towards town to fetch wine and bread? What happens to him?

The youngest. Upon his return he is killed by the other two, who have decided they'd rather not split the gold three ways.


Pardoner's Tale: What happens to the two rioters who stay to guard the treasure?

They kill the youngest when he returns from town, but are then killed when they drink the poisoned wine the youngest had brought back for them.


Nun's Priest's Tale: Who are the characters in the Nun's Priest's Tale?

Chanticleer, Lady Pertelote, Russell the Fox


Nun's Priest's Tale: Who does Pertelote mainly cite in her argument about Chanticleer's nightmare? What is her opinion?

Cato; that it is shameful to be afraid of dreams. She believes Chanticleer is a coward.


Nun's Priest's Tale: What kind of literary sources does Chanticleer cite in his argument with Pertelote?

The Old Testament "Book of Daniel"; The Illiad; his sources are drawn from a wide variety of histories and literature. He is a very well-read bird.


Nun's Priest's Tale: What is Chanticleer's particular talent?

He is very good at singing


Nun's Priest's Tale: How is Chanticleer tricked?

Russell the Fox flatters Chanticleer's singing voice. As Chanticleer sings for him (eyes closed, etc), he leaves himself vulnerable to attack.


Nun's Priest's Tale: How is Chanticleer saved?

Pertelote and the other hens raise a ruckus which alerts the people on the farm, who chase the Fox. Chanticleer tricks the Fox back by saying he should turn and speak to his pursuers. Russell opens his mouth to do so, and Chanticleer is able to slip free.


Nun's Priest's Tale: What historical event is referenced by Chaucer in this Tale?

The Peasants' Revolt of 1381, in which Jack Straw was a leader.


Nun's Priest's Tale: What was the Peasants' Revolt?

A major uprising incited by high numbers of plague deaths, high taxes (especially because of the 100 Years' War), and instability in political leadership. The revolt lasted for six months and only ended when the leaders were tracked down and executed. It influenced the course of the 100 Years' War, because Parliament became much more reluctant to raise funds from taxes for campaigns into France.


When were the Canterbury Tales written?

Between 1387 and 1400


What were three important changes in language that were occurring during Chaucer's career?

English was becoming more standardized, French was being forgotten, and the ability to read and write in English was growing more widespread.


Where are the pilgrims going?

To Canterbury Cathedral


Wife of Bath's Tale: What are four physical traits of the Wife of Bath?

Partially deaf, plump, gap-toothed, ruddy coloring


Miller's Tale: What category of tale is this? What are the characteristic of this tale?

Fabliau; a brief comic tale in verse, usually obscene and depicting the lives of the lower classes


Wife of Bath's Tale: What form does this Prologue take?

That of a literary confession, in which the teller confesses (and often defends) their actions and way of life. The Pardoner's prologue also takes this form.


What is the day of the year that Palamon escape from prison and Chanticleer is captured by Russell the Fox?

May 3